The 2011 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize was shared between two writers:
Susanna Daniel for Stiltsville (Harper Perennial)
Danielle Evans for Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self (Riverhead)

The PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize honors an exceptionally talented fiction writer whose debut work—a novel or collection of short stories—represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise. The winner receives a cash award of $25,000, a stipend intended to permit a significant degree of leisure in which to pursue a second work of literary fiction. The winner is also encouraged to become an active participant in the PEN community and its programs.


Lauren Groff, Dinaw Mengestu, and Nami Mun

From the Judges’ Citation

For Susanna Daniel’s Stiltsville:

From the first splash as a young man dives off the edge of a house, Stiltsville is an extraordinary triumph of storytelling and a vivid evocation of the community that once hovered on stilts over the shallow waters of Biscayne Bay. The story begins with Frances Ellerby’s introduction to Stiltsville after she meets a new friend at a wedding, and it sweeps forward through time, lighting up hundreds of startling, touching details—from the confusion and certainty of falling in love, to the confusion of raising a daughter, to the certainty of love in unbearable circumstances. Writing with the intimacy and tenderness of memoir, Susanna Daniel has created a continuous dream out of the wild colors of South Florida and the drama of ordinary women’s friendships, sustained marriages, and rich family connections. The parrot colors of her landscape—from an orange halter against a tanned neck, to the unearthly pink of Christo’s Surrounded Islands, to the clear turquoise water around the house on stilts—are a background for a glorious, grown-up love story that starts with a salty Stiltsville kiss.”

For Danielle Evans’ Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self:

A sharp observer of American life, Danielle Evans imbues the stories in Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self with wisdom, humor, and a clear sense of history. Evans writes unflinchingly about those who are separated by race and class, and those who are trapped in between. In so doing, her stories, like those of her literary forebears, elevate the consciousness of humanity. By mapping out the familiar and the strange, the changed and unchanged territories of American life, these stories, in the end, are about how America is remaking itself in the 21st century.”


Teddy Wayne for Kapitoil (Harper Perennial)

Past Winners

Carolyn Cooke, Matthew Klam, Manil Suri, Jonathan Safran Foer, Monique Truong, Will Heinrich, Christopher Coake, Janna Levin, Dalia Sofer, Donald Ray Pollock, Paul Harding, Danielle Evans, and Susanna Daniel, Susan Cheever, Paul Harding, Yiyun Li